I was only 14 when Kennedy simulated oral sex on a microphone next to Rudy Giuliani at the ’94 MTV Video Music Awards, and so I couldn’t quite appreciate what I was witnessing. I recall maintaining an awkward silence at school the next day as the incident dominated cafeteria conversations, because I did not want to reveal that I didn’t understand what the fuss was about. I mean, I got the joke as far as it went, but I didn’t understand the negativity and the boos that greeted the popular MTV VJ as she walked on stage to present an award. As I learned at school, the impetus for Kennedy’s stunt was show host Roseanne Barr’s joke in her opening monologue that Kennedy was performing fellatio on Rush Limbaugh backstage. I didn’t know who Rush Limbaugh was at the time.
Kennedy would slowly fade from my pop radar as MTV gradually transformed from a cutting-edge alternative music channel to the confounding and ridiculous epicenter of a new fad known as reality television. It wasn’t until around 2010 that I rediscovered Lisa Kennedy Montgomery as I was mining the internet for material on a burgeoning new interest: libertarianism. By then Kennedy had switched from Republican to libertarian and found a home with Reason.com and ReasonTV. I was impressed with her work and officially became a fan. Around this time, the Fox Business Network was discovering that their highest rated prime-time political shows shared a libertarian bent, particularly Stossel. So I was intrigued to learn that FBN had given Kennedy her own show and that they were doing so to capitalize on the growing libertarian moment.
To date, The Independents has not disappointed. Flanked by Matt Welch of Reason and Kmele Foster of Free Think Media, Kennedy is simply dynamite as the witty, abrasive, hilarious, informed host. She is clearly having a blast and is easily worthy of two or three laugh-out-loud moments a night, a gift that could perhaps be construed as a weakness when she elicits distracting bouts of laughter from her off-screen panelists. That is but a minor quibble though, as everything from the content to the guests to the bumper music is top-notch. What pleases this viewer most are Kennedy’s biting monologues and asides, such as her take that Huma Abedin “sounds like she’s in the Pentaverate! Or the Sextaverate… which we will get into in a later show.”
I’m an unabashed young(ish) libertarian and therefore the perfect representative of the target market Roger Ailes and the FBN brass are aiming to reach with their pivot to more libertarian programming. Leftists are always quick to point out that approximately 50% of the Fox News Channel’s viewership are 68 and older, which explains the sister network’s drive to attract a younger audience. It isn’t a risk-free proposition, as evidenced by a pretty riotous segment called “Two Minutes of Hate,” which airs grievances from the (one suspects) more rank-and-file Fox News viewer and which makes clear that not everyone in the Fox viewership embraces the libertarians’ sudden rise to mainstream prominence. By my own unscientific calculus though, the show is a hit and will remain so, as long as Kennedy keeps the lively atmosphere humming and the wicked one-liners rolling.
I know it’s silly to get excited about a political panel show, but we libertarians are hungry for our ideas to be heard, and adding a great show like The Independents to a roster that includes Stossel (and used to include the great Andrew Napolitano’s Freedom Watch) can only be seen as good news for the further mainstreaming of libertarian ideology. But if you’re skeptical of these ideas or even outright hostile towards them, you should still watch because Kennedy is freaking hilarious and often zones to the point of “Reaganing.”